Why Physical Therapy Is Important After Undergoing an Arthroscopy Procedure

Arthroscopy can be a very effective approach for treating many types of injuries, including traumatic and disease-related injuries. To get the best results from your procedure, physical therapy is recommended to improve healing so you can get back to the activities you enjoy. Here’s what to expect during and after arthroscopy at The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center.

What happens during an arthroscopic procedure?

Arthroscopy uses very small incisions near your joint rather than the single large incision that’s used in traditional “open” surgery. Those small incisions allow Dr. Frazier to admit a very slim scope (called an arthroscope) into your joint area. The scope includes a tiny camera that takes video images of the joint structures. High-definition, magnified, 3D images are transmitted to a monitor, allowing Dr. Frazier to perform the procedure using special instruments designed to be used through small incisions.

Because it’s minimally invasive, arthroscopy is associated with fewer risks and “side effects” compared to traditional surgery, as well as a faster and more comfortable recovery time. Smaller incisions mean less tissue damage, as well as less bleeding and swelling. Plus, many procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthetics.

At our practice, we use arthroscopy to treat problems like:

Dr. Frazier may also use arthroscopy to diagnose joint symptoms when diagnostic imaging like MRI or X-rays don’t provide enough information.

Physical therapy for optimal outcomes

Of course, right after an arthroscopic procedure, you’ll need to rest the joint to give it the time it needs to recover. The amount of rest you’ll need depends on different factors, including the area that’s being treated, your medical history, the type and extent of joint damage that’s being corrected, your age, and your lifestyle. Before and after your procedure, Dr. Frazier will provide you with specific recovery instructions that you should follow.

In addition to rest, you’ll also come in to the office to be evaluated during your recovery, and Dr. Frazier will determine how quickly you can begin to resume your regular activities. For some people, four to six weeks is all it takes to get back to their normal routines, with a gradual return to more strenuous activities. For others, it may take a bit longer.

After the initial healing and recovery period (or sometimes during it), you’ll begin physical therapy to help restore normal function in the joint. Physical therapy typically includes both gentle stretching and therapeutic exercises. There are literally hundreds of exercises and variations, so your program will be customized for your specific needs and goals.

Physical therapy works in several ways to improve your outcome after an arthroscopic procedure:

Improves mobility and function

Physical therapy helps relieve inflammation in and around the surgical site to help restore normal movement and range of motion. Therapy can also be tailored to how you use the joint to ensure it’s strong enough and mobile enough to prevent reinjuring it.

Improves circulation and healing

The stretching and exercises used in physical therapy are excellent for improving circulation in the treatment area. Circulation is necessary for fast and complete healing since it's your blood that carries the oxygen and nutrients your tissues need to recover. Plus, improve circulation can help carry away toxins that can be a byproduct of healing.

Hastens full recovery

Physical therapy helps your body tap into and enhance natural healing processes, and because it can be completely customized for your needs, you can get back to your regular activities more quickly. Therapy is also adjusted throughout your treatment to ensure your exercises and other routines stay “in step” with your progress.

Prevents further injury

Arthroscopy can be a very effective option for treating many types of injuries, but ideally, it’d be nice to be able to reduce your risks for those injuries in the first place. By helping to strengthen and stabilize the tissues that support normal joint function, therapy can reduce those risks. Depending on your lifestyle and activities, your therapist may be able to provide you with additional guidance aimed at keeping you safe and healthy.

After arthroscopic surgery, most patients have physical therapy two to three times a week for several months, beginning when the surgical incisions are healed.

Learn how arthroscopy can help relieve your painful symptoms

Arthroscopy uses the most advanced surgical techniques to help repair and restore many types of injuries, including arthritis and joint damage. With physical therapy as part of your recovery, you can expect faster, better recovery and better long-term results. To learn more about arthroscopy at  The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center, book an appointment online today.

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